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Importing Content


This guide assumes that you already have obtained the content legally, RetroArch does not provide users with copyrighted content.

This guide uses the "scan" functionality to import your games into RetroArch's playlists sorted by console. The scan is recursive so you can organise your collection into sub-folders or potentially scan your whole computer.

Step 1: Download database

In order to have RetroArch recognise your games, you need to have a database of all the titles.


Certain releases of Retroarch (e.g. Windows), come with the database files out-of-the-box.

From the RetroArch main menu select "Online Updater", then choose "Update Databases".

Wait for the download to finish.

Step 2: Scan and import

From the RetroArch Main Menu navigate to "Import Content". You will see three options, "Scan Directory", "Scan File" and "Manual Scan".


"Scan Directory" and "Scan File" are sometimes refered to as "Auto Scan". These options can only recognise content that match the database.
Using the default settings, these scan options also need a coresponding core for the said content to be already added.

1) Scan Directory: for importing a collection of content. Using the file browser, navigate to the folder of the content collection and select "Scan This Directory".

2) Scan File: for importing a single file. Navigate to file and select it.

3) Manual Scan: it scans based on content file names and does not require content to match the database.

Please be patient while it scans. Large collections could take several minutes.

Step 3: Add box art

This is optional. Go back to the main menu, select "Online Updater", then choose "Playlist Thumbnails Updater". Here you need to select the console you want to download.

Please be patient, these take quite some time to download, especially on a slow internet connection.


In order to be able to download thumbnails for manually scanned content, the name of the playlist and the names of the entries must match the ones on the thumbnail website.

Last update: 2024-05-17